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Shifting from Catholic doctrine, Pope Francis endorses civil-union laws for gay couples

By Tanya Lara Published Oct 21, 2020 9:51 pm Updated Oct 22, 2020 12:46 am

Pope Francis’ latest endorsement of civil-union laws for same-sex couples is likely to shake the Vatican and conservative Catholics to their core. And earn him support from gays and liberals worldwide.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

His call for support was made in the documentary Francesco by Evgeny Afineevsky, which premiered yesterday, Oct. 21, at the Rome Film Festival. Afineevsky is a Russian-born director whose 2016 documentary Winter on Fire was nominated in the Oscar Awards and Emmys.

While he does not endorse same-sex marriage, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has previously expressed support for gay unions. 

Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral in January 2015. Photo by Joven Cagande/Philippine Star

In a report on, Joshua J. McElwee writes, “Francis expressed such a view in 2017 as part of an interview with the French author Dominique Wolton. Asked then about the possibility of marriage for same-sex couples, the pope replied: "Let's call this 'civil unions.' We do not joke around with truth."

“The pope also spoke about civil unions in a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, in which he acknowledged that states passing civil union laws were primarily doing so in order to provide same-sex partners legal rights.”

The book referenced by AFP and reports is A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society, a compilation of 12 conversations between the Pope and French reporter and sociologist Dominique Wolton—“open dialogues revolving around the political, cultural, and religious issues dominating communication and conflict around the world.”

In it, Pope Francis reiterates the Catholic Church’s stand against gay marriage. “‘Marriage’ is a historic word," the pope said. "Always among human beings, and not only in the Church, it has been between a man and a woman. You can't just change that like that."

What makes his statements yesterday a landmark in his pontificate is that for the first time he endorsed same-sex civil-union laws.

Pope Francis has urged everyone to be kind throughout his pontificate.

AFP reports Vatican expert Vania de Luca teling RaiNews, “Since the beginning of the pontificate the Pope has spoken of respect for homosexuals and has been against their discrimination. The novelty today is that he defends as pope a law for civil unions."

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power tweeted, “Time will tell, but I believe that Pope Francis’s support for same-sex unions will ultimately have a profound impact on how gays and lesbians are treated around the world. The Pope’s views, heard by the over 1 billion Catholics worldwide, have incredible power.”

Pope Francis’ rain-soaked motorcade upon arrival at Tacloban Airport in 2015.  Photo by Val Rodriguez/Philippine Star 

The pope has met with LGBT Catholics and has urged everyone to focus on being kind to all people throughout his pontificate.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said in 2013.

More often than his predecessor Pope Benedict did, Pope Francis speaks about current issues, whether it’s COVID-19 or children literally being caged by US Immigration and the terrorist group ISIS.

As pope, he has washed the feet of criminals, kissed lepers in the face, embraced children lining his parades and comforted orphans.

During his visit to the Philippines in January 2015, he commiserated and prayed with Filipinos who had lost family members during the devastating Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) two years earlier.